Many episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" are built around food. Ray's mother, Marie, spends much of her time in the kitchen preparing Italian dishes like lasagna, meatballs, etc. Everything Marie makes is delicious. She loves to fuss over her son, Ray, making him his favourite dishes. However, Ray's wife Debra, is not interested in cooking. Her trademark dish, lemon chicken, is passable at best. Everyone cringes when they know Debra is preparing the meal. Marie criticizes Debra's cooking every chance she gets. She raids her fridge, purging it of dishes which have turned into science experiments. This makes for great comedy.
We are introduced to Debra's lemon chicken in the very first episode, as she prepares it for Ray on their first date, and he claims that it is so good, he could eat it forever. Be careful what you wish for!
Episode 15, titled "Turkey or Fish" is based on the Barone's Thanksgiving dinner. Debra wants to create her own tradition and suggests they serve fish. Marie, on the other hand, will not bend, insisting on bringing a golden turkey, roasted to perfection to her daughter-in-law's house. Marie's husband Frank ends up choking on some food and Marie won't rest until she proves that it was Debra's fish, not her turkey. Surprisingly, however, Frank likes the fish so much he asks for more!
In Episode 37, called "Marie's Meatballs" Marie dusts off her box of precious recipes from her mother and shares the meatball one with Debra, giving her a personal cooking class. Then Ray tastes the meatballs and claims that they are not as good as his mom's. Debra will not rest until she finds out what went wrong. It turns out that Marie sabotaged the recipe by pasting a basil label on a bottle of tarragon.
In Episode 57, titled "No Fat" Marie is diagnosed with high cholesterol and decides to cook a fat-free Thanksgiving dinner, serving a tofu turkey. Everyone is disappointed and refuses to eat it; Ray even orders a real turkey from a restaurant. In the end, Marie relents and sneaks into the kitchen that night to steal some of the turkey.
In Episode 91, called "Debra Makes Something Good" everyone is astonished at how good Debra's braciole tastes. Marie declares war, determined to prove to her family that she is still the best cook.
In Episode 146, titled "The First Time" Marie and Debra have been feuding for three episodes straight. In an attempt to patch things up, Marie bakes a chocolate cake and writes on it "I'M SORRY". Ray never tells Debra about the cake, which ends up back at Marie's house, where Ray, Robert and Frank devour it. Once again, Marie's cooking is irresistible.
In Episode 206, called "Tasteless Frank", Marie is distraught because for the first time Frank is over the moon about her cooking. He is adding salt to all of her dishes which she considers to be the ultimate insult. It turns out that he has started a new medication that he doesn't want her to know about. The problem is resolved when Frank chooses to stop taking his medication and he gets his taste back. Marie is relieved!
Marie became synonymous with good cooking. In fact, Doris Roberts, who plays Marie wrote the autobiography Are You Hungry, Dear?: Life, Laughs and Lasagna, which includes some of her famous recipes.
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